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By William May
(Japan Amateur Wrestling Federation, Public Information Committee:wmay52@hotmail.com


TOKYO (May 2) – Six-time world champion Hitomi Sakamoto overwhelmed a young field at 48kg with a pair of falls and a win by technical superiority in the final to claim a berth on the world team at the Meiji Nyugyo Cup All-Japan Wrestling Invitational Championships.

Sakamoto, who won her six world titles at 51kg, notched falls in the quarterfinals and semifinals at Yoyogi National Gymnasium complex before making quick work of three-time Asia cadet champion Chinami Abe in the final 6-0, 7-0 in an aggregate time of 1 minute, 58 seconds.

Sakamoto retired from competition after the 2008 world championships, but decided to return to the mats after her younger sister and 48kg national champion, Makiko, announced she was hanging up her wrestling shoes.

It will be the elder Sakamoto's seventh trip to the world meet where the 2000 FILA female wrestler of the year is undefeated.

Also in the women's events, 2008 world silver medalist Mami Shinkai notched a pair of wins at 67kg to win herself a second trip to the world championships in Moscow in September.

Meanwhile, in the men's competition Ryutaro Matsumoto won the 60kg title to assure himself a second trip to the world championships, while younger brother Atsushi Matsumoto won in freestyle at 84kg to book his first trip to the worlds. It will be the first time that brothers will wrestle for Japan at the same world meet.

The elder Matsumoto, the reigning national champion, defeated Kazuki Kuramoto in the final to book his place in Moscow. Kuramoto defeated three-time Olympian and 2007 world silver medalist Makoto Sasamoto to advance to the final.

Atsushi Matsumoto rebounded from last year's competition and training ban on students from Nippon Sports Science University to defeat national champ Shinya Matsumoto convincingly in the quarterfinals at 84kg and again in the world team wrestle-off.

NSSU wrestlers were placed under a collective ban on training and competition in late 2008 after a member of the team was arrested and admitted to a sexual assault on a young woman living near the school. The ban was lifted in early April.

Also in the men's events, Takao Isokawa repeated at 96kg in freestyle, while Norikatsu Saikawa and Hirokazu Shinjo won in greco-roman at 84kg and 120kg respectively. Isokawa and Saikawa will make their second trip to the world meet, while Shinjo will be going for a third time.

Men's freestyle

84kg (10 entries)
F1 – Atsushi Matsumoto df. Yuki Nagata, 2-0 (2x-2=last, 5-0)
SF – Matsumoto df. Kojiro Tonomura by TF, 2-0 (6-0=1:00, 7-0=1:43)
SF – Ito df. Takeshi Yamaguchi, 2-1 (1-0, 0-1, 2-0)
(A. Matsumoto wins MNC title 1st time)

World team wrestle-off
A. Matsumoto df. Shinya Matsumoto, 2-0 (1-0, 3-0)
(A. Matsumoto makes world team 1st time)

96kg (11 entries)
F1 – Takao Isokawa df. Yoshitaka Shimoyashiki, 2-0 (6-1, 5-0)
SF – Isokawa df. Takayuki Miyaji, 2-0 (1-0, 5-0)
SF – Shimoyashiki df. Kenzo Sakamoto, 2-0 (1-0, 2-1)
(Isokawa wins MNC 3rd straight year, makes world team 2nd straight year)


60kg (12 entries)
F1 – Ryutaro Matsumoto df. Kazuki Kuramoto, 2-0 (4-2, 8-1=1:44)
SF – Matsumoto df. Yasuyuki Tanioka, 2-0 (1-0, 1-0)
SF – Kuramoto df. Makoto Sasamoto, 2-0 (2-0, 3-0)
(Matsumoto wins MNC title, makes world team 2nd straight year)

84kg (8 entries)
F1 – Norikatsu Saikawa df. Masayuki Amano, 2-0 (5-0, 3-0)
SF – Saikawa df. Gaku Kikuchi, 2-0 (3-1, 4-0)
SF – Amano df. Ryo Ito, 2-1 (6-0=1:45, 0-2, 3-0)
(Saikawa wins MNC title, makes world team 2nd straight year)

120kg (8 entries)
F1 – Hirokazu Shinjo df. Atsushi Nakamura, 2-0 (2-0, 1-0)
SF – Shinjo df. Shinji Hirakawa, 2-1 (0-1, 2-0, 3-0)
SF – Nakamura df. Katsutoshi Maekawa, 2-0 (1-0, 2-0)
(Shinjo wins MNC title 4th straight year; makes world team 2nd straight year, 3rd time overall)

Women's freestyle

48kg (11 entries)
F1 – Hitomi Sakamoto df. Chinami Abe by TF, 2-0 (6-0=1:22, 7-0=0:36)
SF – Abe df. Ayano Suzuki, 2-1 (3-0, 0-3, 3-0)
SF – Sakamoto df. Miori Suzuki by fall, 2P=0:34 (7-0=0:32, F4-0)
(Sakamoto wins MNC, All-Japan Women's title 1st time at 48kg, 6th time overall including titles at 51kg)

67kg (5 entries)
F1 – Mami Shinkai df. Chiaki Iijima, 2-0 (4-0, 1-0)
SF – Shinkai df. Chihiro Hashimoto, 2-0 (5-0, 5-0)
SF – Iijima df. Chiaki Machida, 2-0 (6-0=1:27, 7-0=0:33)
(Shinkai wins MNC, All-Japan Women's title 2nd time, 1st in 3 years; makes world team 1st time in 2 years)

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